So Cambridge is following Somerville and Boston in clearing the way for residents to sell the crops they grow and to keep chickens about the place. While it may seem in a crunchy place like the Hub that the trend is inevitable, the number of urban farmers and chicken-coop owners nationwide doesn't seem to be on the rise (even if the interest in both is).
Little to no research has been done on the effects of urban farming on property values (and it looks like none whatsoever on chicken coops). Anecdotally, it appears to be good for the farmer him or herself: fresh food to sell and eat; a nice hobby; chickens to name. For the neighbors, however, urban farming (and whatever the term is for chicken-keeping) seems to have ruffled quite a few feathers.
But critics of the backyard coops say chickens attract raccoons, coyotes, and other pests and that they create unsanitary conditions. And the foes say the cited economic benefits are nonsense. Just building a coop can cost hundreds of dollars and raising hens is time-consuming. Some areas, too, have become a bit overwhelmed with the sheer amounts of urbanized chickens. Miami has a "Chicken Busters" squad that periodically rounds up errant hens (as many as 6,000 by mid-2009) and sells them to local farms. Other locales have drowned urban farmers in fines, including for escaped chickens and for selling produce in front of their houses. Most, we should note, had regulations on the books for governing urban farms.
Cambridge's changes are a ways off, but, again, the trend seems inevitable. There's just no precedent locally to study what happens to the property of those who still do food the old-fashioned way: at Trader Joe's. Let us know what you think about the rise of urban farming in the Hub.
· Cambridge Looking to Implement Urban Agriculture Program [Chronicle]
· Some City Folk Are Mad as Wet Hens When Chickens Come Home to Roost [WSJ]